, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 13 – Bilateral talks between French President Emmanuel Macron and his host Uhuru Kenyatta are underway at State House Nairobi.
Macron’s delegation arrived shortly after 3pm for a State visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has described as a historic being the first by a sitting French Head of State.
Macron inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Army complete with a 21-gun-salute.
Top government officials accompanying President Kenyatta in the talks include Deputy President William Ruto, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, Defence’s Raychelle Omamo, Treasury’s Henry Rotich, Sicily Kariuki (Health), and Keriako Tobiko (Environment).
Macron started his tour of Africa in Djibouti on Monday where he visited some 1,400 French forces based there.
He later headed to Ethiopia where he held talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and visited the historic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia pledging support towards the restoration of the churches.
The Élysée Palace said Macron is committed to creating “a new relationship with Africa” during his tour that will also see him visit Rwanda.
In Kenya, Macron’s discussions with Kenyatta will be centred on the construction of a commuter rail link connecting the capital city to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
He will be taken on a guided tour of the Nairobi Central Railway Station by President Kenyatta later in the afternoon.
Macron is also scheduled to co-host the One Planet Summit with President Kenyatta at the ongoing United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri on Thursday.
The fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly tagged UNEA-4 commenced on Monday under the theme “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.”
Kenya will be seeking to upscale discussion on sustainable use of natural resources in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We’ve begun to frame Nairobi as the world global environmental capital because we host UNEP. It has become an assembly of all UN member States and there are a lot of discussions going on around environmental management in Nairobi,” MFA Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma had told Capital FM News last December.
UNEA-4 will also build on global consensus and commitments made at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, the Kenya’s inaugural ocean economy conference held in Nairobi in November last year.
A concept note for UNEA-4 identifies the integration on SDGs as set out in a UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1 as a key outcome of the Nairobi meeting.
The resolution titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” sets out an ambitious agenda aimed at protecting the planet from degradation and addressing climate change.
“We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations,” the resolution adopted in September 2015 states in part.
The 2015 commitment laid a 10-year framework to mitigate depletion of natural resources.
The resolution aims at halving per capita global food waste at retail and consumer level by 2030 and further cut down on losses along production and supply chains.
The resolution also aims at achieving sustainable management of chemicals within an agreed international framework as well as reduces waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.
UNEA-4 will also seek to cement commitments made during last year’s blue economy conference which Kenya co-hosted with Canada.
Macron’s visit to Rwanda will coincide with the 25th anniversary commemoration of the 1994 genocide where some 800,000 citizens, mainly Tutsi were massacred in a 100-day campaign directed by a predominantly Hutu regime.
The visit will be at the centre of media attention given Kigali has long held a view that Paris supported the Hutu regime and helped train soldiers and militia that conducted the mass murders.
On Tuesday, AFP quoted Rwanda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Olivier Ndungirehe saying Macron had been invited to the anniversary.
“President Macron has been invited to the 25th commemoration of the 1994 genocide.”
Macron will be the second French President to visit Rwanda after Nicolas Sarkozy’s February 2010 visit during which he admitted his country erred. He however gave no apologies for what he termed as “serious errors.”
Rwanda’s Paul Kagame visited Paris last May in a first visit by a Rwandan leader since 2011.
Relations between two countries were described as strained under Sarkozy’s successor, François Hollande who led the country between May 2012 and May 2017.